I wanted to hate it, I really did. I have long harboured the suspicion that Catherine Martin was the real talent behind Baz. Behind every flamboyant man. So I was really only there for the frocks. Can’t deal with Our Nic, and Hugh doesn’t float my boat. But I tell you, it’s a GREAT film. Really good fun. And if you are a fan of Baz Luhrmann’s work, switch off the computer, and go see ‘Australia’.
What I have come away resenting are the critics and naysayers. Bill Bennett* has got a headline on smh.com.au today, blaming Baz Luhrmann among others, for the state of the Australian film industry. Apparently it’s the auteurs that are ruining it for the likes of Bill Bennett. All Bill wants is a Hollywood-by-the-sea, so he can make “good movies every now and then” like they do in La-La Land. Movies like “Big Stan”, ey Bill? The problem the Australian Film Industry has is nothing to do with auteurs. The problem our film industry has is the problem the country has; we don’t take what we do seriously. If you’re artistically inclined in this country, don’t dare call yourself an Artist, don’t even think about elevating yourself above me, mate. And if you want to use your brain to earn your living, better bugger off overseas, cos we don’t like intellectual types either. And God help you if you even look like you’re going to criticise Oztralia, particularly if you are an artist, an intellectual and worst of all, an ex-pat. Oh, Robert & Germaine, how do you sleep at night?
I’m not for a second suggesting blind devotion to all things Australian. There’s a hell of a lot about this place I don’t like, and don’t understand. But I think it’s time we grew up, and stopped tearing each other down. Whatever issues we have with the Yanks, they don’t have the Tall Poppy Syndrome and they are capable of slapping each other on the back, and saying well done. They say to each other “You can” instead of “You can’t”. They take what they do seriously and they are not embarrased to celebrate their success and this is perhaps what we should take from Hollywood.
Coincidentally, The Weekend Australian is calling for readers to vote for their favourite Australian Film. It will be interesting to see how many of our faves were directed by ‘auteur’ film directors. In the meantime, if you want a couple of hours escapism, if you want beautiful scenery, beautiful frocks, and a rather lovely torso to gaze on, I suggest you go see ‘Australia’. The raspberry frock is worth the ticket price alone!
* Bill Bennett is an Australian film director.